Originally published on Global Voices July 9.
“God, I insist, please let me see Peru in Russia 2018,” read the plea of one fan at the Spain-Netherlands match in Salvador, Brazil on June 13.
The sentiment was sure to resonate with Peru’s weary football supporters, stuck in a 32-year World Cup rut that last saw them feature at Spain 1982.
But few would have expected that Piero Campaña, aka ‘Pisko’ to be the country’s new Internet sensation weeks later. His viral hit, ‘Peruano’ –a rapping homage to his country of birth over rock guitars– has had over 750,000 YouTube views in a week as of July 8.
The song has drawn praise for its showcasing of Peru’s best features, such as the Nazca Lines, Cusco, and his rousing call to unite all Peruvians. “I’m Peruvian, I live in Peru. I’m Peruvian, I live like you. And with the same shirt you were born with,” he blasts in the chorus.
Critics, however, say Pisko — who presumably takes his name from the country’s signature liqor, Pisco — is an opportunist using the patriotic paean to launch his music career.
The shout-outs of cities and odd words in Quechua, an indigenous language, don’t disguise the marketing spin, ahead of its independence day celebrations at the end of July.
It has nonetheless stirred debate about what it is to be Peruvian, with over 3,000 comments written on the video-upload site.
Lima daily newspaper El Comercio notes the number of views are an “achievement few Peruvian artists can expect to boast about”.
The Andean country of 30 million is ethnically diverse, possessing indigenous populations in its mountain and jungle regions, to mestizo and fairer-skinned people of European ancestry on the coast.
Excelente el mensaje de #Pisko pero la canción mmmm ahí nomás. Si sirve para que nos identifiquemos un poquito más con el Perú, bienvenido.
— Felix Ravn (@FelixRavn) July 7, 2014
The message is excellent, but the song, hmmm. If it means that we identify ourselves more with Peru, for me it’s welcome.
— Yazmin Vela (@minyazve) July 6, 2014
Typical empty-headed marketeer.
— AZPITIA (@Azpitia) July 7, 2014
The video is very nice. We should tell Pisko Capoeira is from Brazil and not a traditional Peruvian dance.
— dahiana (@Dahiana_3) July 4, 2014
Who’s this white guy who sings about Peru and doesn’t know how to rap?
But some aren’t too endeared by Pisko:
me averguenza saber que el video de pisko puede ser visto en otros países
— Dario Van Woof (@trainsporking) julio 7, 2014
It’s embarrassing that Pisko’s video can be seen in other countries.
Elemental Visual Media, Pisko’s advertising agency, said “the affection [Pisko] has for the country isn’t cheap talk, nor opportunist speech.”
Whether self-publicist chancer or genuine patriot, Pisko’s past life as an economist is apparent in the video’s graphs on gross domestic product and education rates.
How many other artists can claim to have those credentials?